Happy December! As a writer, there are many things I want for Christmas.
- A finished manuscript. I seriously need to stop abandoning stories.
- Some new ideas. Sometimes I have too many. Sometimes I don’t have any.
- More time. 25 hours in a day would be nice.
- Small acts of kindness. Is that too much to ask for?
- Peace and quiet. A baby crying nonstop is the complete opposite.
- Someone to retrieve my sanity and bring it back to me. I don’t have any monetary reward, but I’ll dedicate my first book to you.
- More money in my bank account. So I can buy stuff I don’t need.
- A lifetime supply of books. I’m running out of space so…
- Another bookshelf. Too bad my room is too small for that.
- A house with a library in it. And on office.
- The imposter syndrome to go away. Does it ever?
- I’d love for my muse to come back to me. I’m not sure where it’s gone. Probably somewhere nicer and warmer.
- Procrastination can leave me alone. The door is that way. I hope it bites you in the head, you big pest.
- A strong dose of inspiration. The stronger the better.
- I need motivation. Desperately.
- Good sleep. Restful nights where I don’t wake up at an ungodly hour and start to contemplate all of my life choices.
- A better sense of humour. Or someone who gets my sarcasm.
- To see people I want to see and not see people I don’t want to. Knowing my luck however, the exact opposite will happen. I see someone who is a stranger to me more than I see my best friend. The universe clearly enjoys toying with my emotions.
- Patience. Current status: non-existent. I have no idea how people keep calm and collected all the time. I can’t control myself. I’m out of control. Send help.
- I really want to get over my fear of operating a motor vehicle, so I can drive myself far, far away and write for days. That’s my goal in life.
I’m going back to school in less than a week, which means I’ll be commuting all the time. Here’s how I try to make my commutes productive.
Fortunately I don’t get motion sickness, so I love reading on the subway. It’s more convenient to open ebooks on my phone, but carrying a small paperback isn’t bad either.
I get most, if not all, of my writing done when I commute. If you don’t write, you could draw instead.
As a student, I’ve studied for many tests and exams while traveling to class. I tend to make cue cards or cheat sheets beforehand, and then review key concepts on the go.
If you’re not a student, use your commute to go over lines for a presentation or moves to a dance. I’ve done both.
Or more accurately, take a quick 20 minute power nap. Resting doesn’t always seem productive, but if it means you have more energy the rest of your day, close your eyes and relax. You don’t even have to fall asleep. Sometimes all you need is just a short break where you don’t think about anything.
I’ve lost track of how many times I have eaten on the subway. More often than not, it’s a granola bar. If you’re going to be stuck in traffic for an hour, you might as well take the time to refuel, so you’re not starving before you get home. On a similar note, make sure you’re drinking enough water when you’re out and about. Listen to your body. Take care of it, okay?
Here’s to commuting productively!
I wanted to try to live better, so I’ve been doing the following:
Walk more. Specifically in the morning. When I was in school, I did a lot of walking. Even though I’m not taking nearly as many steps now, I hate the thought of sitting at home all day long. So now I walk and listen to a podcast at the same time.
Floss every night. It took a while to build this habit. For a time, I didn’t. Then I would but forget on occasion or get lazy. Now I’m finally flossing right after I brush my teeth.
Stay hydrated. I drank so little water in high school, I was probably close to being dehydrated half the time. I pay greater attention my liquid consumption these days, especially as the weather warms up.
Go to bed earlier. I think sleeping has been one of my biggest challenges. I have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. As I get busier, I find myself sleeping later. I have a morning routine, but I don’t have much of a night routine. Once upon a time, I slept earlier and woke up at a decent time. I’m doing my best to do that on a consistent basis.
Practice mindfulness. I’m not perfect, but I like living in the moment as much as possible. I put my phone away while I’m eating. I also check in with myself throughout the day when I have some time.
Even though I feel like I haven’t been that productive, I have been living a better life. And that’s something I’ll take every day.
Or at least a semi-productive one.
Feel free to use what works and discard what doesn’t.
- Wake up early. Earlier than you normally do. That way, you have more time. In a perfect world, you’d go to bed earlier the night before.
- Tackle the most difficult task first. Especially if you’ve been procrastinating. Get it out of the way. At the very least, start something.
- Bunch things together. For instance, let’s assume you need to use the computer for a bunch of tasks. Try to complete all three at once rather than turning on your computer multiple times during the day. Get all your groceries in one trip. Run a bunch of errands together. Pay your bills at the same time.
- Break up big projects into small tasks. If only so you’re not as overwhelmed by all you have to do.
- Have incentives. Motivate yourself to work hard with rewards. It can be a piece of candy or a night out with friends.
- Multi-task, don’t multi-focus. It’s almost impossible to focus on two or more tasks and do them well. It is possible to do two things that don’t split your attention or require intense concentration though. For example, listen to a podcast while washing the dishes.
- Get rid of distractions. Go to another room that doesn’t have a tablet, TV, etc. Ask a family member to change the Wi-Fi password. Or get a friend to hide your smartphone.
Here’s to having a productive
Why do you write?
Because I hate just about everything else.
How often do you write?
Every single day. I barely sleep, I hardly study, and I rarely socialize.
What’s the easiest part?
Writing the first draft.
What’s the hardest part?
Editing terrible first drafts.
What’s your writing routine like?
I’ll wash my hands because I’m a germaphobe. Then I start writing until I’m done.
What did you accomplish in 2017?
Next to nothing. I got to attend a magazine launch for the first time. I hope it’s not my last.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing stories that are too long but also too short at the same time. Send help.
What are your goals for 2018?
I’d like to submit my work to as many places as possible. I know that’s not specific. Give me a break. Vague is my middle name after all.
What are you looking forward to?
I received some exciting news the other day. Nothing is completely confirmed or finalized just yet. Any day now I’m going to do cartwheels until my wrists fall off. I’ll keep you updated.
What’s your dream?
To be a published author. To make a living doing what I love. I just want to work with words. Is that too much to ask for? Probably.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself trying to write the next bestseller while squinting at a screen.
Any last words?
Thank you for coming along with me on this wonderful and woeful journey. I hope you experience even more rejections than I do.
A new year means new goals I’ll try to achieve but probably won’t.
- Read more.
- Review more.
- Write more.
- Publish more.
- Blog more.
- Comment more.
- Create more.
- Dance more.
- Stretch more.
- Exercise more.
- Sleep more.
- Eat more.
- Journal more.
- Study more.
- Work more.
- Give more.
- Smile more.
- Laugh more.
- Love more.
- Live more.
Less is more, Herminia.
What are your goals for the new year? Let me know in the comments below.